I'm not sure what it is about green bean casserole that makes it somehow only seem normal at fall and winter holidays (at least that's how I feel). I remember eating it at potlucks every once in awhile, but green bean casserole was never something I ate much growing up. It wasn't until high school that I asked my mom if we could please add green bean casserole to our Thanksgiving meal. I had seen the countless "Who brought the green bean casserole?" commercials and being the advertising junkie that I am, I suddenly began to wonder why no one in my family ever brought the green bean casserole. Where was this delicious looking dish that I'd only had a handful of times?

Of course my mom was happy to add such an easy dish to her Thanksgiving repertoire. It's little effort and big payoff. So, why change up a timeless dish that everyone already loves and make this more complicated version? I don't have a great answer for that, but I liked the idea of having real mushrooms and I also think this spin on the dish looks far more elegant. Sure, it's green bean casserole, but no one would know it if you brought it to a party. They'd take a bite, love it (because it's fantastic) and then realize that it's a dressed up version of an old favorite. I kind of like that about it. It's seems much less "holiday-only" and much more of a dish that is really just a combination of a lot of delicious ingredients. You'll notice it says "Best Ever" on Alton Brown's recipe. That's his wording, not mine. I loved this variation, but now that I've been exposed to a whole new world of GBC I think I may have to try out a few more before awarding that title! (Starting with Paula's...which had even better ratings!)


Best Ever Green Bean Casserole
Recipe from Alton Brown

For the topping:
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons panko bread crumbs
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Nonstick cooking spray

For beans and sauce:
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 pound fresh green beans, rinsed, trimmed and halved
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
12 ounces mushrooms, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup half-and-half

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.

Combine the onions, flour, panko and salt in a large mixing bowl and toss to combine. Coat a sheet pan with nonstick cooking spray and evenly spread the onions on the pan. Place the pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake until golden brown, approximately 30 minutes. Toss the onions 2 to 3 times during cooking. Once done, remove from the oven and set aside until ready to use. Turn the oven down to 400 degrees F.

While the onions are cooking, prepare the beans. Bring a gallon of water and 2 tablespoons of salt to a boil in an 8-quart saucepan. Add the beans and blanch for 5 minutes. Drain in a colander and immediately plunge the beans into a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain and set aside.

Melt the butter in a 12-inch cast iron skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms begin to give up some of their liquid, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and nutmeg and continue to cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and stir to combine. Cook for 1 minute. Add the broth and simmer for 1 minute. Decrease the heat to medium-low and add the half-and-half. Cook until the mixture thickens, stirring occasionally, approximately 6 to 8 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in 1/4 of the onions and all of the green beans. Top with the remaining onions. Place into the oven and bake until bubbly, approximately 15 minutes. Remove and serve immediately.

Cookie cake reminds me of elementary school when every birthday was an all out celebration. That's my style. Someone's parent would send them to school with a cookie cake. The teacher would cut it into a million tiny pieces. You'd hope you got the piece with a small portion of the balloon made out of icing. No one wanted the plain cookie square. Ah, those were the days. As I get older I've realized people place less importance on birthdays. Gone are the days of cookie cakes. How depressing!

So what's a grown up cookie cake? This right here. You don't even need a birthday for it. This is one of my all time favorite recipes. It's three layers of wonderful. The first layer is a delicious cookie, the second is rich ganache, and the third is cold, sweet whipped cream. It's also a simple recipe despite the three parts. It may take a little extra time to allow the layers to cool, but it's definitely worth it. I've yet to meet a person who didn't love it!


Chocolate Chip Cookie and Cream Tart
Elinor Klivans' The Essential Chocolate Chip Cookbook 
Mixing time: 20 minutes for crust, filling, and topping
Baking: 350 F for about 17 minutes

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (6 ounces ) semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2/3 cup (4 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup cold heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter a 10-inch springform pan.
Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until smoothly blended. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until blended, about 1 minute. On low speed, add the flour mixture, mixing just until it is incorporated. Mix in the chocolate chips.
Use your fingers to spread the dough evenly over the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake just until the top begins to turn golden but the center is still soft, about 17 minutes. Cool the crust in the pan on a wire rack.

In a medium saucepan, heat the cream and butter over low heat until the cream is hot and the butter melts. The mixture should form tiny bubbles and measure about 175 F on an instant read thermometer. Do not let the mixture boil. Remove pan from heat, add chocolate chips and let mixture sit for 30 seconds to let chips soften. Whisk chocolate together smoothly and add vanilla. Let the mixture cool and thicken at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
Spread sauce over crust leaving a 1-inch edge uncovered, refrigerate for about 30 minutes to firm the filling.
In a large bowl beat cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla together until firm peaks form. Spread the whipped cream over the chocolate filling, mounding it slightly in the center. Serve or cover carefully and refrigerate. Serve cold.

First of all, I apologize for putting up two pumpkin recipes in a row. I would try to put up something different if I didn't love this recipe so much. As it is, I feel you all need this recipe in your lives as fast as possible, so I'm sacrificing variety. I'll change it up next time!

I only made these pumpkin bars because I had a 1/2 cup of pumpkin left and nothing to do but bake. I'd had them bookmarked for awhile. There's nothing fancy about them, so I think they got overlooked whenever I was deciding on which recipe to make next. I should know by now that the simple recipes are always the best. These were amazing. Technically they're blondies, but I still think of blondies as somewhat dry and crumbly. These are the opposite. It's like biting into that top gooey part of pumpkin bread, but without the issue of having to savor it since you know the next bite won't be as good. I also added in white chocolate chips to jazz them up a bit. 

I have zero complaints about this recipe. Honestly, just thinking about them makes me want to go whip up another batch. You should do the same.  


Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Blondie Bars
Recipe from Lauren's Latest
yield: 12 small; 9 large 


6 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1/2 cup pumpkin
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup white chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8×8 square dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together. Stir in egg, vanilla and pumpkin. Pour in all dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Spread dough evenly into prepared baking dish. Bake 15-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean after being inserted. {Some ovens are hotter than others. Keep an eye on yours!} Remove from oven, cool 5-10 minutes, cut into bars and serve warm. Or wait and serve at room temperature.